The whole subject of homosexuality is surely one that needs re-examination in the light of the fact that now that it has not been a criminal offence for many years it is obvious that this is the way many people are inclined. I, like many others, have many gay friends and they are no different to my other friends except in that regard.
In fact in the Catechism the Church acknowledges this stating in article 2358 ‘ they do not choose their homosexual condition.’ But then it adds,’ for most of them it is a trial.’ I would disagree with this. It is only a trial when they are not accepted as being what they are, though the Church does add ’ they should be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.’
However, the Catechism goes on to say that they are called to chastity because their acts are ‘intrinsically disordered’, ‘contrary to the natural law’ and ‘they close the sexual act to the gift of life.’
So the question then arises, if as the Church says ‘they do not choose their homosexual condition’ and the acts they perform are natural to them, why are they called ‘disordered’? And even more important why shouldn’t they be allowed to express their love intimately and to commit themselves to a partner in the same way as married couples? It surely can’t be because they can’t have babies because heterosexual couples marrying late can’t either.
Pope Francis can’t change things just like that but he could, and I hope will, set up a commission of clergy, theologians, lay people and other experts to study and make recommendations for him with the Bishops to consider so that a collegial decision can be taken.
I wonder whether this is one of the subjects Cardinal Martini S.J. had in mind when in his ‘last testimony’ he declared the Church was 200 years behind the times?
MORE COMMON SENSE
All the chatter about homosexuals is peripheral. As an Anglican friend says, ‘It doesn’t work’. They can’t make babies so clearly any act is unnatural. Natural means to make babies, is productive; unnatural is not. ‘Rights’ to this that and the other, however damaging to society, are peripheral. QED
By the way, when did sodomy become a virtue? I missed that encyclical.
TOO MANY CHURCHES
It is with sadness that I read the suggestion that there are too many churches, simply because we are keeping spaces in the pews for lost souls to return home. Some of our churches may be old but they are easily identifiable as places to worship God and accessible to the local community. They are also a tribute to the sacrifice of working class parishioners who built many of the churches brick by brick paid for from their meagre wages.
Whilst it is true that many people own cars, a significant number of people are unable to drive either through financial circumstances, ill health etc. and live in areas with poor or expensive public transport. Would the church be Catholic if it was only accessible to car owners and those who could manage to walk to church? Why bother to evangelise, if there isn’t space to accommodate a larger congregation, or if we exclude people from the Mass and Sacrament of Reconciliation because of inability to travel longer distances?
I wonder how much research was completed before publishing a letter that may cause anxiety, refuel rumours and leave some of our most valued people feeling unwanted and condemned (along with God’s houses) to the scrap heap? The proposal appears to have little respect or consideration for some of our most valued members of the congregation who struggle to get to Mass and would find it impossible to travel further. There is also the false assumption that smaller modern buildings are attractive and accessible. Modern buildings can be ugly, depressing, cramped, boringly uniform and are definitely not attractive to everyone. As for accessible, I can’t see how a church can be accessible if you cannot physically reach it?
On a final note, there have been many churches and religious communities that have been, by the grace of God restored to full life, perhaps we should hope and pray that it will continue (especially in Syria and Egypt). Meanwhile, we could chose to live in hope and re-examine whether we can do more to keep our churches standing, support the Priesthood and keep the pews ready for filling.
Corpus Christi with St Joseph’s
I write in response to an attack by Mr John Parsons in his Parsons' Pointerson the Pope's decision to give Catholics a revised translation of the Mass, a decision which was warmly commended by our Bishops including Bishop Hollis.
It is understandable that many people do not like change, but change is inevitable.
Many of us were disturbed by the changes in liturgy rushed through by the ecumenical committees on liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, but in the most part they were accepted by the people.
There should be no dichotomy between having a liturgy which is accurate in the wording and a mission to feeding the hungry; we can do both.
THE DILEMMA OF SCIENTISM
I refer to the Pastoral Message from Bishop Philip on 9th July on the publication of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. The Bishop states ‘Something I find distressing nowadays is the widespread yet mistaken belief that science gives us the truth, the facts, or at least the most certain knowledge available, whilst faith-knowledge is mere conjecture, personal opinion or in some cases an ideology leading to fanaticism’.
Science is based on hypotheses based on observation. Some, such as the theory of gravity, have been tested and proved correct so frequently that they are regarded as fact. Others, such as the causes of climate change, are frequently conjecture and often fall apart as more evidence is collected and tests undertaken. Many theories, such as the theory of evolution, lie somewhere in between. We must teach children that science does not have all the answers and that theories are just that, theories. However, to suggest that scientists are not ethical and that the religious establishment has always been ethical is also incorrect (the Church even today discriminates against homosexuality, a genetic condition). I believe that the solution to this issue is to educate children that it is necessary to understand the difference between fact and theory, evidence and belief, religion and science. The frequent debates on television between ‘scientists’ and religious believers are usually unhelpful, reinforcing entrenched positions and often putting those with religious beliefs on the defensive.
When it comes to children commencing secondary education, we can either tell them to accept whatever they are taught which inevitably leads them to accept all scientific theories and religious dogma as fact (in some US states, theories which religious faiths do not wish them to believe such as the theory of evolution are censored) or we can encourage them to question what they hear and undertake further study. Jesus certainly challenged the conventions and perceptions of his day. My wife and I brought up our sons to ask questions about what they were taught and now neither are active church members like so many other young adults who find that the Church is still rooted in the Middle Ages. But faith may come to them in later life as it did me.
July - September 2018
Subscribe here to receive
Portsmouth People on line
Department for Pastoral Formation
Park Place Pastoral Centre,
WICKHAM, PO17 5HA
t: +44(0)23 9283 3121
f: +44(0)23 9287 2172